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Rowley A Law Unto Himself
Posted: Tuesday, September 27, 2005

By Stephen Kangal

Housing Minister Dr. Keith Rowley is rapidly emerging as a law unto himself. He is a loose cannon by doing whatever he wants. This includes credible allegations made against him of illegally misappropriating public property at the Tobago Hospital to facilitate his private Landddate development.

While the T&T Housing Development Corporation (TTHDC) Bill, 2005 has been passed in Parliament and awaiting Presidential assent to replace the NHA Minister Rowley gets the same NHA, in undue haste and on the verge of extinction to issue $ 1.4bn in Bonds (Newsday 17 Aug. p.34). In the transition who will account for this vast sum when the NHA is soon disbanded to make way for the TTHDC?

The TTDHC Bill in Section 13 (1) restricts the Corporation to " the provision of affordable shelter and associated community facilities for low and middle income persons". Such shelter provisions will also apply to the flood of foreign Caricom nationals who will be soon resident here. What is Minister Rowley doing in Federation Park building town houses that will be " on par with the housing in the elite Federation Park neighbourhood"? (Newsday 9 Sept. p. 5). This is similar to what he is already doing in Santa Margarita to vote-pad the Tunapuna marginal seat and dislocate existing communities.

In complete infringement of the remit of the proposed TTHDC as stated above, Minister Rowley is reported to have said "Government's housing programme encompassed from low to high income homes". This will be illegal according to the TTHDC Act. In absence of a Government's policy statement on housing what policy will the incubating TTHDC implement as required by Section 13(1) (c) of the Bill? Will Dr Rowley build expensive million-dollar upper class houses in Federation Park and gift them to persons of middle incomes to get around the legal restrictions?

In spite of the restrictive caveat relating to housing for low/middle income persons provided in the Bill, Minister Rowley speaks of providing TTHDC's housing to all persons regardless of their socio-economic status. Will low-middle income salaried persons including the Jamaican workers and other Caricom nationals being attracted to T&T be given Federation Park high- income town houses using the citeria of electoral security, political patronage and nepotism? Will party hacks who already own houses rent these modern town-houses out and pay no rent to the TTHDC? Can the existing Federation Park residents whose lives stand to be affected adversely believe the assurances given to them by any Minister including Rowley (Newsday Sept. 13.p. 5)?

Why is Housing Minister Rowley/TTHDC dabbling with building a mayoral residence for the Mayor of Port of Spain ( Newsday 13 Sept. p.4) when this matter is completely outside of the ministerial jurisdiction of the Minister and his yet- to- be- proclaimed TTHDC? Will the mayors of Arima, San Fernando, Chaguanas and Point Fortin be equally treated with their own mayoral mansions by Minister Colm Imbert/Dumas or the UDECOTT?

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